Silk Road

The Silk Road was an ancient network of trade routes that for centuries were central to cultural interaction through regions of the Asian continent connecting the East and West from China to the Mediterranean Sea. I have not traveled the entire SILK ROAD but have done about 60% and here are my photos from the areas I have been to on the SILK ROAD:  China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, (Denied VISA into Turkmenistan), Italy.  Iran is my next SILK road Country.



Trade on the Silk Road played a significant role in the development of the civilizations of China, the Indian subcontinent, Persia, Europe, the Horn of Africa and Arabia, opening long-distance political, economic, religious and cultural relations between the civilizations. Though silk was certainly the major trade item exported from China, many other goods were traded using the Bactrian camel as a means of transport.


Also, religions, syncretic philosophies, and various technologies, as well as diseases, also spread along the Silk Routes. In addition to economic trade, the Silk Road was a route for cultural trade among the civilizations along its network: Buddhists, Islam, Judaism and Orthodox Christianity

The main traders during antiquity included the Chinese, Arabs, Turks, Indians, Persians, Somalis, Greeks, Syrians, Romans, Georgians, Armenians, Bactrians and here below were the enforcers


and one of their leaders below


In June 2014 UNESCO designated the Chang’an-Tianshan corridor of the Silk Road as a World Heritage Site. The Silk Road consisted of several routes. As it extended westwards from the ancient commercial centres of China, I traveled overland through the deserts of western China from Kashgar in a Sand Storm


the Silk Road divided into northern and southern routes bypassing the Taklimakan Desert and Lop Nur. Again the countries largely participating were: Italy, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, {Iran = (my next trip)}, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.  Below is a resting stop at Tash Rabat in Kyrgyzstan. We came in over the Torgut pass. Bribed to get a pass in the old days = Yea man!!!


The Southern Routes included: Afghanistan, Pakistan.  I have been to both countries and here is Taxila, Pakistan below an old Buddhists ruins


Taxila Pakistan above and the Taj Mahal in India at Agra below


And Jaisalmer India below was also located on the Silk road and we traveled with camels on a camping trip in the desert

2400170270e14fa9 b32efd47344c4ed9

The Silk Road continued into Kathmandu, Nepal below



as well as Tibet, Bangladesh and Bhutan.  I have not been to those areas but close in Nepal and Sikkim. The northern route started at Chang’an (now called Xi’an), an ancient capital of China and split into three further routes, two of them following the mountain ranges to the north and south of the Taklamakan Desert to rejoin at Kashgar below. Again I traveled into Kashgar and saw the Market which was incredible.  The people there are call uighurs and Turkman inheritance



Kashgar’s market still survives above and below


The other Silk road route, travels north of the Tian Shan mountains through Turpan, Talgar, and Almaty (in what is now southeast Kazakhstan).  It is a great town today (below)



The routes split again west of Kashgar, with a southern branch heading down the Alai Valley towards Termez (in modern Uzbekistan), I was just there and here is a madras below at Termez


Below is the bridge from Termez into Balkh (Afghanistan) below =  a lot of opium is grown there = a lot


– a lot of Opium and morphione base go from Balkh into Russia and Europe from there = alot, and there was a building boom in Dunshanbe built off the Opium trade = quite no one knows about this!!  While the other travelled through Kokand in the Fergana Valley (in present-day eastern Uzbekistan) and then west across the Karakum Desert. Both routes joined the main southern route before reaching ancient Merv, Turkmenistan.  Another branch of the northern route turned northwest past the Aral Sea and north of the Caspian Sea, then and on to the Black Sea through Nukus and Khiva below


A route for caravans, the northern Silk Road brought to China many goods such as “dates, saffron powder and pistachio nuts from Persia; frankincense, aloes and myrrh from Somalia; sandalwood from India; glass bottles from Egypt, and other expensive and desirable goods from other parts of the world = again be quite but alot of Morphine base comes out of Balkh Afghanistan.  In exchange, the caravans sent back bolts of silk brocade, lacquer-ware, and porcelain.


The southern route or Karakoram route was mainly a single route running from China through the Karakoram mountains, where it persists in modern times as the international paved road connecting Pakistan and China as the Karakoram Highway, I drove the entire road below and saw quite a bit of Smuggling


Military weapons smuggling from Russia into Pakistan 1992 below on KKH,  yes they were

e3266dc18cfe4f5f 03d0f007502f41b8

The route then set off westwards, but with southward spurs enabling the journey to be completed by sea from various points. Crossing the high mountains, it passed through northern Pakistan, over the Hindu Kush mountains, and into Afghanistan, rejoining the northern route near Merv, Turkmenistan.  From Merv, it followed a nearly straight line west through mountainous northern Iran, Mesopotamia, and the northern tip of the Syrian Desert to the Levant, where Mediterranean trading ships plied regular routes to Italy, while land routes went either north through Anatolia or south to North Africa.

Not only goods and servies were traded but also the trading facilitated the transmission of ideas and culture, notably in the area of religions. Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Manichaeism, and Islam all spread across Eurasia through trade networks that were tied to specific religious communities and their institutions. Notably, established Buddhist monasteries along the Silk Road offered a haven, as well as a new religion for foreigners.

The transmission of Buddhism to China via the Silk Road began in the 1st century CE. During this period Buddhism began to spread throughout Southeast, East, and Central Asia. The Buddhist movement was the first large-scale missionary movement in the history of world religions. One result of the spread of Buddhism along the Silk Road was displacement and conflict. Its main trade Centre on the Silk Road, the city of Merv, in due course and with the coming of age of Buddhism in China, became a major Buddhist Centre by the middle of the 2nd century.

Some Mahayana scripts were found in northern Pakistan in Taxila, but the main texts are still believed to have been composed in Central Asia along the Silk Road. These different schools and movements of Buddhism were a result of the diverse and complex influences and beliefs on the Silk Road. Merchants found the moral and ethical teachings of Buddhism to be an appealing alternative to previous religions. As a result, merchants supported Buddhist monasteries along the silk roads, and in return the Buddhists gave the merchants somewhere to stay as they traveled from city to city. As a result, merchants spread Buddhism to foreign encounters as they traveled.

The town of Kashgar was a strategically important town and staging post based at the point where the northern and southern Silk Roads converged, with easy access to India, Persia, Central Asia and Russia. Kashgar has been fought over for centuries between Chinese and Arabs, has been conquered by Genghis Khan and Tamerlane and was the base for the Great Game between the Russians, British and Chinese in the 19th century. Today Kashgar is still evocative of the Silk Road era with a maze of narrow alleyways and open air markets run by Uighir, Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Tajik merchants. Its 1,000 year old Sunday market is one of the most famous and colourful in Asia as 100,000 people gather to buy camels, livestock, leather, rugs, daggers, jewellery and silk. Kashgar’s other attractions include the Id Kah Mosque, the largest in China, and the 17th century Abakh Hoja Mausoleum. see below



Bukhara is considered the best preserved example of a medieval city in Central Asia, with its overall design and many monuments having changed little in centuries. With over 100 officially preserved buildings, it rewards extensive exploration. Highlights include the Ark Citadel, heart of the city and residence of Bukhara’s Emirs and the Kalyan mosque and minaret from which prisoners were thrown to their deaths. The Ismael Samani mausoleum dates to the 9th century and is the resting place of the founder of the Samanid Persian dynasty. The Lyabi Hauz Square is a pool of water surrounded by mulberry trees and madrassas and the perfect place to visit a traditional teahouse. Aside from the historic monuments, Bukhara’s charm lies in exploring the narrow and twisting alleyways and seeking out jewellery, spices, cloths and other goods in the bazaars.


Khiva The ancient city of Khiva in north-western Uzbekistan is one of the most atmospheric and evocative of the Silk Road cities. Strategically located on the Volga branch of the Silk Road, Khiva has been fought over for centuries by Arabs, Mongols, Persians and Russians. The inner town of Itchan Kala is enclosed by unbroken 10 metre high walls with 40 bastions. The town is beautifully preserved and perfect for exploration amidst the madrassas and minarets. The notable buildings include the Kunya Ark fortress, Pakhlavan Makhmud complex, Toza Bog Palace, Muhammed Amin Khan Madrassah and Djuma Mosque, whose minaret offers great views of the city below.


Samarkand is perhaps the most famous of the Silk Road cities, one of the oldest cities in the world and one of the great destinations in world travel. From its founding in the 7th century BC, Samarkand has been as the crossroads of great trade routes, cultures and peoples and was conquered by Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan. In the 14th century, Tamerlane made Samarkand the capital of his empire and transformed the city into one of the finest in Central Asia. Its most famous feature is Registan Square, bordered on three sides by the three huge and stunning blue tiles madrassas Ulugbek, Sher Dor and Tillya Kari, perhaps the defining image of Central Asia and the Silk Road. Bibi Khanum Mosque has been compared to the Taj Mahal as Tamerlane constructed it for his wife. Other notable features include Ulug Beg’s Observatory, where the great medieval astronomer calculated the length of the year to within 10 seconds, the Shakhi-Zinda Mausoleum complex and the gold-lined Gur Amir, the mausoleum of Tamerlane and his sons and grandsons.




The five ancient cities of the Merv oasis, covering over 100 km², have been important in this region for millennia. Merv reached its peak in the 11th and 12th centuries as part of the Great Seljuk Empire as key city along the Silk Road and famous for its libraries that attracted scholars from all over the Islamic world. The city and its million strong population were destroyed by the Mongols in 1221. Today, Merv is the oldest and best-preserved of the oasis cities of the Silk Road with notable monuments including the Beni Makhan mosque, Sultan Sanjar’s Mausoleum and the windowless castle of Kyz Kala. The Museum of History in the nearby town of Mary contains an excellent collection of relics rescued from Merv. photo below



Ok there you have it